700 Children's® – A Blog by Pediatric Experts

Transition of Care: Helping Teens Become More Involved in Their Healthcare

Dec 15, 2020
Teenager smiling

Adolescence involves a lot of changes, including a new dynamic between caregiver and child. One change that isn’t talked about often is the child becoming more involved in their own medical care and eventually switching from a pediatrician to an adult doctor. Just like learning to drive or how to do laundry, it’s best that teenagers are prepared for this with the help of their caregivers.

"Transition of care" is the preparation of teenagers and young adults to become more involved in their own healthcare, help them learn how to make medical decisions, and eventually assist them in a planned move from pediatric healthcare providers to adult providers. Most people don't switch doctors until they are young adults but starting to prepare children earlier can be helpful. While starting these conversations at 11-12 years old may seem early, it helps get children more involved and feel better about the upcoming change.

Below are some goals to help children start to feel confident about being involved in their health as they grow.

Ages 12-15:

  1. Practice talking to the doctor on their own. Whether discussing a new concern or asking a question about their health, it can be scary to have to talk to a provider for the first time. Practicing with family before an upcoming appointment can be helpful. Practice makes it easier!
  2. Talk to caregivers about their medical history. It’s imperative for adolescents to learn the answers to questions like: have they ever been in the hospital? Are there any diseases that run in the family? Do they have any allergies? These are good to know so when they have to see a doctor alone, they will know important information to help provide better medical care.
  3. Learn what their medications are for and how to take them. Talk about when it would be good for adolescents to become involved in taking medication by themselves. If it's not safe to take medications on their own yet, try to get them involved in remembering when and how to take medication.

Ages 16-21:

  1. Make a doctor's appointment. Adolescents can work with caregivers on picking a good time for an appointment. The number for scheduling at Nationwide Children's is (614) 722-6200.
  2. Practice filling a prescription. Have teenagers go with family to the pharmacy next time they have a new medication. They can give the pharmacy their name and birthdate to find the medication and ask the pharmacist any questions they have.
  3. Talk about health insurance. Show adolescents their insurance card and if they are planning to go to college or move to their own home, make sure they have a copy to take along.
  4. Sign up for MyChart. Did you know that adolescents can have their own MyChart login? This means that they, as well as caregivers, can message their doctor with questions, make appointments, and view results.

We are excited to help our adolescent and young adult patients learn more about their health! Setting them up for success from the start will help keep them healthy and continue the healthy lifestyle families have created to help their children.

For more information, talk to your doctor or go to GotTransition.org or www.cap4kids.org/columbus/teen-resources/transition-to-adult-resources.

Featured Expert

Rachel D’Amico, MD
Resident III, Internal Medicine/Pediatrics

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700 Children’s® features the most current pediatric health care information and research from our pediatric experts – physicians and specialists who have seen it all. Many of them are parents and bring a special understanding to what our patients and families experience. If you have a child – or care for a child – 700 Children’s was created especially for you.